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Fiji Volunteering Opportunities

Cultural Demonstration - weaving palm fronds into a basket
Cultural Demonstration - weaving palm fronds into a basket
Robert Painter

See the real Fiji and have the experience of a lifetime. How many of your past holiday trips can you actually remember? How many times have you been to the beach? How many times have you escaped to the mountains? How many times have you taken whirlwind tours that left you in need of a vacation when you finally got home?

Volunteering Fun in Fiji
Robert Painter

Maybe it is time for a change. Maybe you need to try something different. Maybe it is time to slow it down a bit and really get to know and experience a new venue and a different culture. Wouldn't it be fun to take a vacation where you didn't have to dress up for dinner or take a taxi to get around town or stand in line for hours to take a five minute ride? Wouldn't it be exciting to become involved in a local community and really get to know the local people? Wouldn't it be especially rewarding if you could do all this in paradise?

If you are ready for a change you will want to know more about Vinaka Fiji Volunteering. First, remember that we are talking about the islands where Blue Lagoon and Castaway were filmed - it is truly a beautiful place. Rent one of the movies if you can't remember the scenery.

Vinaka Fiji is a charitable trust that was established to provide basic amenities that might be missing from some of the villages in the Yasawa Islands. The trust works directly with the residents of 27 remote communities in the Yasawas and you can be a part of this program if you like.

What can you do? Of course, if you're a doctor, a nurse or a teacher the answer is pretty obvious. Certainly skilled tradesmen can always help. The reality is that if you are a willing and able person who can offer time, interest and desire to help Vinaka Fiji can find a way to utilize your efforts.

There are three core programs run by Vinaka Fiji and you can be a part of one or more of them. The first is children, schools & education. The second is creating sustainable communities and the third is marine research and conservation.

The focus is on helping the villages achieve access to the basic needs in life including water, power, nutrition and education, and helping to build a sustainable future for these villages.

If you would enjoy being surrounded by beautiful young children who are well-mannered, respectful and appreciative of your help you might want to be involved in an early education program or a one on one reading program. You can be directly involved in assisting with English language teaching (all the children speak English), math education, sports education, arts, etc.

You can work with children, teenagers and young adults in one-on-one and group projects while living in a spectacular island location where you will be immersed in the local Fiji culture.

Your individual preferences may run more along the lines of work projects to assist with developing rainwater harvesting, water capacity management, sustainable agriculture practices or perhaps assisting in the setup of micro enterprises. You will work alongside local villagers and learn to appreciate and enjoy the Fiji islanders in their own habitat.

Would you rather spend your day in or on the water? How about swimming and snorkeling with Manta Rays, snorkeling, diving and photographing coral reefs, monitoring and managing the coral reef predator Crown of Thorn Seastar, or tracking existing and new species.

My guess is that you can find a rewarding way of volunteering with Vinaka Fiji if you really would like to experience the holiday of a lifetime. The program is based at the Barefoot Island Lodge, situated on spectacular Drawaqa Island. The rooms are only steps from the waterfront and the views are tremendous. Meals are included in your program cost and you don't work on weekends during which you can enjoy some of the world's finest snorkeling, swimming and diving. You will be able to participate in local cultural activities, the traditional Village Church Service, visits to caves, hiking, hand-line fishing or just hang around the Lodge and enjoy the company of other volunteers and guests.

My recommendation is to spend a few days or a week on the Fiji Princess before or after your volunteering experience. You can read more about that in an OffBeat Travel article coming soon. It is a delightful small ship with an all Fijian crew that anchors offshore in the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands. If you cruise after your volunteer experience you will surely be a star onboard that everyone will want to talk with about your experience.

So hop aboard Fiji Airways and fly direct from Los Angeles to Nadi, Fiji. Have a wonderful voluntouring experience and . . . Keep on Traveling!

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